Hellah Sidibe has been running every day for five and a half years – and doesn’t plan to stop soon



CNN

Every day, whatever the weather, Hellah Sidibe puts on his shoes and heads to the nearest road, park or trail.

It’s a ritual he’s kept for the past five and a half years, and 31-year-old Sidibe doesn’t plan to break it anytime soon, no matter where he is and what life throws at him.

“As of now, I don’t want to advance myself, but I can see myself doing it for the rest of my life,” he said. CNN Sport.

On May 15, 2017, Sidiba decided to run for 10 minutes a day for two weeks. He was tired of making empty promises about going to the gym, and wanted to hold himself accountable for a small, manageable exercise routine.

It wasn’t long before Sidibe began expanding his ambitions. Running got faster and faster, and soon he planned to go every day for a year.

The days passed and he gradually began marking more milestones – two years, three years, 1,000 days. His only condition, which Sidibe still adheres to, is that his runs are outdoors and at least two miles long.

Unbeknownst to him, he became a jogger – a sign of people who are committed to running for the long haul every day.

according to Streak Runners International and United States Running Streak Associationan organization that catalogs running streaks, 71-year-old John Sutherland has topped the list of active running streaks for 53 years — nearly 19,500 days.

Sedeep may still be decades away from joining the disciples who have served in the running streak for so long, but his five-and-a-half-year journey has radically redefined his outlook on the sport.

Sidibe, a promising footballer in his youth, considered running a form of punishment and would spend sleepless nights the day before his fitness tests.

That soon changed with the advent of the running streak.

“I just said, ‘I want to face fear, but I invite him to,'” Sidibe recalls. “I wasn’t pushing it—I’m calling this thing because I don’t really know. I’m making it something that probably isn’t that bad.

“I saw running as a privilege that not everyone has,” he continues. “I want to use that privilege of mine when there are people out there who can’t walk, let alone run. It feeds that thing inside of you, and you get out there and get it done — there are no excuses.”

Sidibe grew up in Mali, sometimes spending whole days playing football in the streets and fields near his family home. He and his friends revered the great Brazilian Ronaldo – rudely drawing his name and the number nine on the back of their shirts – and at the same time, Sidibe dreamed of playing for Chelsea in the Premier League.

When his family moved to the United States, these aspirations accelerated. Sidibe played NCAA Division I football with the University of Massachusetts and later gained the attention of clubs in Major League Soccer and Germany’s Second Division.

He signed a professional contract with Kitsap Pumas, a subsidiary of Seattle Sounders, but visa issues and limiting the number of non-US citizens allowed on the MLS list hampered his progress.

In the end, Sidibe gave up his football career.

“It hurts you—it doesn’t matter how hard you work, but this piece of paper is holding you back,” he says of his visa problems.

“Things I wasn’t in control of, sort of, put me in a situation that, looking back, there’s definitely some depression in there. I’ve always been a happy young man, but I’ve always found myself sad…I got into this dark spot in my life where I didn’t like anything And I didn’t smile much, and I didn’t want to talk to anyone like as much as I used to.”

Even now that Sidibe is a US citizen, he has no intention of returning to football, and his love for the sport has waned after he has been hopping between teams and trials.

Over time, running became a cornerstone of his life, and on day 163, his fiancée convinced him to create a YouTube video about his running streak.

authorized “Why do I run every day,” It immediately proved successful. Views and comments poured in, and the pair became YouTubers “overnight,” according to Sidibe. today their channel, hell is goodShe has 276,000 subscribers, and the best videos garner millions of views.

In addition to updates to his streak, the channel also documents Sidibe’s experience taking feats of endurance – including his recent participation in the Lifetime Leadville Trail 100 Runsthe 100-mile race in Colorado, and 3,061 miles, 84 days across America.

Sidibe competes in the Leadville 100.

Sidibe believes he is the first black man ever to complete a solo race across America, a feat he accomplished last year by running at a rate of more than 36 miles a day across 14 states.

Test the challenge more than just endurance. Sidibe says he’s stopped and questioned by the police every day, and each time he explains how he’s been completing an intercontinental tour of charity — fundraising for the nonprofit Soles4Souls – and that the RV in front of him was a two-person support team.

He also said he was sworn in, called racial slurs, and even threatened with a knife while jogging on Route 66.

In between those episodes, there were “beautiful” moments: strangers give him food, water and money, as well as people who run with him long distances from the journey.

“Even though I’ve been through all these hard times, these tough times… you can’t be angry about anything that was going on,” Sidibe says. “A lot of people put their energy and strength together just to help you.”

The ugly moments of the challenge were a reminder to Sidibe that running can leave him vulnerable to racial abuse.

He says he’s never felt insecure in his New Jersey neighborhood, but he makes a conscious effort to “look like a runner” when he ventures away. That means wearing distinctive running gear—a jacket, headphones, and a back cover that doesn’t cover his face—and carrying hiking poles on trails and hills.

“Even as I ran across America, the shaft I had on the hills helped a lot, but often, I didn’t need it,” explains Sidibe.

“I know if I grab it and have a jacket on, it’s going to make me look like I’m doing something – I’m not just a running person. People use my race to make judgments that shouldn’t be there to target me.”

There were times while running across America when Sidibe paused to think Ahmed Arberythe 25-year-old black man who was chased and killed by three white men while running in a neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia.

“It could have been me,” Sidibe says, adding that Arbery’s death “frightened a lot of runners.”

“For me, it’s important to be there for acting, to have people like me say, ‘You know what, heyla does it. I’m going—it’s okay, we’re fine, we’re safe.'” “Let’s think about the positive side of it.”

Sidibe’s constant enthusiasm and infectious smile has made him endearing to members of the running community, to whom he gives advice and shares his running experience.

While some might argue about the importance of rest days in any training routine, Sidibe says he manages his running load by including lighter days—sometimes as little as two or three miles at a time—and staying injury-free with stretching, massage, foam rolling, and strength training. .

So far, he’s been able to maintain his streak through injury — dropping to 14 miles a week while repairing damage to his hind leg — and surgery to remove his wisdom teeth.

Can Sidibe imagine his streak is coming to an end?

“It’s only on the day that I wake up and feel like I don’t like this at all,” he says. “I give myself permission to quit every day. There is no pressure to keep going.”